Teen traumatized after hair gets stuck in go-kart engine at Va. amusement park

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (WRIC/CNN) - A 16-year-old girl in Virginia is recovering after her hair got stuck in the engine of a go-kart at an amusement park, leaving her with a large bald spot and a lot of pain.

Matia Ruffin, 16, and her mother, Unique Coleman, were enjoying the new multi-level go-kart racetrack at Fun Land in Fredericksburg, Virginia, when Coleman heard screaming. Her daughter’s braid had gotten entangled in one of the go-kart engines, trapping her.

Unique Coleman and her daughter, 16-year-old Matia Ruffin, were racing on a multi-level go-kart track when the teen's hair got caught in the engine of her go-kart.
Unique Coleman and her daughter, 16-year-old Matia Ruffin, were racing on a multi-level go-kart track when the teen's hair got caught in the engine of her go-kart. (Source: WRIC/CNN)

"I was thinking I was going to die. I thought that was my last time," Ruffin said. "It was horrible. It was scary, horrifying. It was bad."

Cell phone video of the incident shows Ruffin stuck in a go-kart, surrounded by paramedics.

“First instinct was I got to get her out of this go-kart. Then, she was panicking, and her legs were both up in the air. Her head was kind of leaned or tilted back," Coleman said.

Fun Land employees tried cutting Ruffin’s hair with two knives and wire cutters, but it didn’t work. The pulling just increased the teenager’s pain, so her family called 911. Paramedics were forced to take apart the go-kart and use a harness to lift Ruffin out.

"She had a blood clot where her scalp actually lifted from her skull," Coleman said.

Ruffin’s once shoulder-length hair is gone after being ripped and cut out of her head. The high school sophomore says the incident traumatized her, and she hasn’t returned to school since.

"It's completely bald. There's nothing there. I'm self-conscious. I'm scared to show people," Ruffin said. "It's stuck with me for life. I have nightmares about it. I think about it all the time."

A go-kart rule listed on Fun Land’s website states hair longer than shoulder-length must be secured. Ruffin says her hair was tied up, but the speed and wind caused it to come loose.

"The staff, I didn't feel like they were equipped for any type of emergency situation," Coleman said.

Despite the mother’s feelings, her focus right now is on her daughter’s healing, as they pray her hair grows back.

Fun Land’s general manager says nothing like this has ever happened before at the park. He said employees do undergo training for emergency situations, and safety policies are in place.

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